Re-visiting a place years later or catching up with old friends never fails to remind you just how quickly time passes…and sometimes, how things can also change.
My first trip to Copenhagen was in July 2003. I came for a few days to stay with my friend Linda and I left with a great impression of the city which was so pretty and different to other ones I’d been to at that point. Coming back this time round, I also got to catch up with Mette, who I met through Linda (Mette came down to Sydney for 6 months to do fieldwork for her thesis). And, as if two great Danish girls wasn’t enough for one weekend, my American friend Mike also came down to Copenhagen for the weekend; he lives in Aarhus where he’s doing a masters degree. I actually met Mike way back in 2001 at Sydney Uni when he was doing a study abroad program – and as we have both reflected, it feels like a long time ago. (Thinking about how quickly time passes, a memory just crossed my mind about the morning after September 11. I remember being in a bit of a daze looking for Mike at uni so that I could talk to him about what had happened…and you know what? I don’t know if I’ve felt so strongly affected by world events since that time so perhaps in the intervening years I’ve become a bit harder…)
Linda and Mette in a park in the town centre. Great picture huh?
Copenhagen is a laidback, open city and a real antidote to congested London – so we had a great time there exploring the city with our friends and admiring the lovely old buildings and dramatic statues, as well as the impressive urban planning and architecture. (Though it has to be said, the new Copenhagen Opera House is not a patch on Sydney’s Opera House – our Danish architect did a much better job – but then, I’m partial.)
One of the highlights of our visit was Christiania, close to the town centre of Copenhagen, and an interesting relic of the social revolutions of our recent past. It has long had a reputation as a sophisticated commune as well as a place to easily score some hash – but it goes way beyond that. In its own words, their “committment is to create and sustain a self-governing community in which everyone is free to develop and express themselves as responsible members of the community – no weapons, no hard drugs, no violence, no private cars etc…” It has a great, relaxed vibe. But it should come as no surprise that this community is on the verge of being dismantled by the government, it being 2006 and all.
Me on a bench in Christiania – the community’s official flag is three yellow circles on a red background.
But even though a lot of things about the world changes, some things never will. Like the fact that people who don’t have access to a garden feel the need to plant flowers (below is an example of a ‘leisure garden’ which can be rented out for cultivation).
And the fact that, even though the Danish have a pretty cosmopolitan diet these days, they still have some strong food traditions – a bit of eel on rye bread can really hit the spot. (Well, it hit ours anyway!)